Commentary Archive

What to watch for: Indiana in Montreal

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Indiana begins a five-game tour over six days in Montreal, Canada (with one game in Ottawa) on Aug. 8 which will be the first foreign trip for the program since 2007. Here’s a look at five things we’ll be watching for on the trip:

· How will Indiana respond to adversity? The last Indiana foreign trip in 2007 to the Bahamas resulted in three lopsided victories by an average margin of close to 60 points. This group of Hoosiers will be playing a much more difficult slate of games against some of the best teams in Canada, including Carleton University and Ottawa University, who faced off last spring for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) title.

It’s not a matter of if Indiana will face adversity in several of these games, it’s a matter of how they will respond. With only two returning upperclassmen and seven new scholarship players, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly chemistry can begin to form against solid competition.

“I’m really anxious to see who is real up when we are playing well and who gets real down when we are not playing well,” IU coach Tom Crean said earlier this month. “And then you’ve got to have guys that can impact the game on both ends of the floor.”

· Our first look at James Blackmon Jr.: Indiana fans have followed James Blackmon Jr. since the summer before his freshman year of high school and now the Fort Wayne native is set to make his debut in an IU uniform. Blackmon Jr. looks like a pretty safe bet to start from day one as a Hoosier, but his impact on other perimeter players could be a major storyline this season.

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Offseason storylines: What IU needs from Mosquera-Perea

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Welcome to offseason storylines, a look into some of the biggest storylines surrounding the 2014-2015 Indiana Hoosiers. Next up, a look at the potential role of Hanner Mosquera-Perea as a junior. (Previously: A look at Indiana’s youth and how it got here, Is Troy Williams ready to make a leap?, Where can Ferrell grow as a junior?)

Indiana will enter the 2014-2015 season with one of the Big Ten’s best backcourts. Yogi Ferrell returns with a legitimate shot to challenge for first team All-Big Ten honors. James Blackmon Jr. arrives with numerous accolades, including a selection to the McDonald’s All-American team. Stanford Robinson will bring a year of experience and the ability to get to the basket. And Robert Johnson arrives with a college ready body and shooting stroke.

The frontcourt situation, however, is far less certain and full of questions.

The loss of Noah Vonleh to the NBA and the midseason transfer of Luke Fischer to Marquette leaves the Hoosiers with very few options up front. IU did add a bit of depth last spring with the signing of Jeremiah April, a 7-footer from Phoenix, Arizona, but the majority of the frontcourt minutes figure to go to sophomore Devin Davis and junior Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

At 6-foot-9, Mosquera-Perea is much more of a center than the 6-foot-7 Davis, although IU did use Davis at the five situationally last season against teams with similar size up front, like Michigan. But against teams with size, it stands to reason that Mosquera-Perea should get the first crack at the minutes that were mostly taken by Vonleh a season ago.

So what does Indiana need from Mosquera-Perea, largely unproven through his first two collegiate seasons, as a junior? In comments last week, Tom Crean said that it starts with consistency for the Colombia native.

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Offseason storylines: Where can Ferrell grow as a junior?

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Welcome to offseason storylines, a look into some of the biggest storylines surrounding the 2014-2015 Indiana Hoosiers. Next up, a look at where Yogi Ferrell could improve as a junior in Bloomington. (Previously: A look at Indiana’s youth and how it got here, Is Troy Williams ready to make a leap?)

Before the book was definitively closed on the 2013-2014 season, Yogi Ferrell sat in front of his locker at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis following IU’s loss to Illinois in the Big Ten tournament and reflected on a year that had been, in a word, disappointing.

While many of his teammates didn’t offer much in terms of an explanation of what had just transpired over the last 32 games, Ferrell was speaking like a player who already knew he needed to do more.

“Maybe we just don’t know how to overcome adversity,” he said, bluntly. “Next year, we’ve got to hold guys more accountable, make some guys angry, get in some guys faces sometimes. I didn’t do that enough this year not knowing how they’d respond to it. Next year is going to be a different story.”

Ferrell’s offseason, of course, didn’t get off to a great start as he was arrested in late April during Little 500 week, but all has been quiet since then for IU’s junior point guard.

He’s no longer tweeting publicly and in early June at Huber Winery, Tom Crean outlined the shift he is hoping to see internally with his team as it enters the 2014-2015 season.

“Our guys last year spent too much time being buddies, than being absolute comrades,” Crean explained. “Comrades and even friends, they don’t let you make mistakes. It is not just what goes on, on the floor, it is what it is off the floor. Buddies are afraid sometimes of telling each other what needs to be done and we have to outgrow that and Yogi is a key component of that.”

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag: July 11

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall), submitted on our premium forum and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.

kmark22 on the premium forum writes: I know people believe with the loss of Fischer, Jurkin, & Vonleh IU needs big players….is this idea/topic really overblown given how IU plays. Do they really need big men to be successful?

I believe you have to have some sort of presence, even if it’s just mainly for defense and rebounding. However, there are very few offenses in college right now that are based on throwing the ball into the post and letting a guy operate with his back to the basket. It’s a perimeter oriented game with ball screens and pick and roll dominating the landscape. If you can space the floor, make 3s at a reasonably efficient rate, offensive rebound and get to the line, you can win without a big man who scores a lot.

I think the main thing for Indiana next season is going to be finding a combination of players up front that can defensive rebound and defend without fouling, which is something Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Devin Davis had problems with in limited roles last season. – Alex Bozich

Richard Howenstein on Facebook writes: How do you see Hoetzel fitting in to the lineup? He has length that we need and has an outside shot. Is he a 7th or 8th guy off the bench?

I think he’s got a shot to be a rotation player right away if he’s able to defend adequately. If you look at it on paper, the “sure fire” rotation guys appear to be Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson, Stanford Robinson, Troy Williams, Mosquera-Perea and Davis. Beyond that, Nick Zeisloft and Hoetzel are probably right there for the 8th and 9th spots.

We don’t really know enough about where Collin Hartman is physically to say how much he’ll be able to play with any certainty and I’ve never seen Tim Priller or Jeremiah April play, so the foreign trip should give us a gauge on where those two stand. To answer your question, if Hoetzel makes shots and helps space the floor, he’s going to find his way into the rotation in some capacity. — Alex Bozich

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A closer look at the Nick Zeisloft addition

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Indiana added a 12th scholarship player to its roster on Monday in Nick Zeisloft, a transfer from Illinois State who will be eligible immediately. The 6-foot-4 Zeisloft, a native of La Grange, Illinois, has two years of eligibility remaining.

So what will Zeisloft bring to Indiana? Here’s what IU coach Tom Crean said about his addition in the school’s press release:

“The addition of Nick allows us to spread and space the floor even more and play with more pace. More importantly, we are adding a young man that has been raised well and has been well coached throughout his career. He brings a physical and mental toughness that has allowed him to play at a strong level and brings leadership and maturity to our program.”

The mental toughness and leadership aspects are obviously important pieces to the addition of Zeisloft, but what kind of statistical and shooting impact will he have for Indiana?

Let’s look at his numbers from his first two seasons:

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag: July 2

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall), submitted on our premium forum and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.

HoosierJake on the premium forum writes: We had a visitor in recently that could still join this year’s team. With no immediate commitment from him, has that passed? If so, what is the likelihood of someone still joining this roster in time for the Montreal trip? How active is the staff in trying to round out this roster and fill scholarships?

I would not read the lack of a commitment to this point as anything of substance. Often times in transfer situations, there are academic things that need to be figured out, especially when a specific major or program is being sought. The situation you’re referencing, I believe is Illinois State transfer Nick Zeisloft, who took a visit to Bloomington recently. There is mutual interest there, so it’s certainly a situation to keep an eye on.

As far as the likelihood of someone still joining the roster, I think it’s definitely possible. Indiana has two scholarships open, so if there’s a player out there who can add something, I would expect the staff to pursue it. — Alex Bozich

iulaw79 on the premium forum writes: With Austin Conway committing to Wyoming, do you see this impacting our chances of landing his teammate De’Ron Davis?

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Where Noah Vonleh’s been, and where he’s going

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When Noah Vonleh, all of 17 years, two months and 20 days old, signed his letter of intent to play for Tom Crean and the Hoosiers on Nov. 14, 2012, a visit to Bloomington the previous weekend sealed the deal.

“Cody Zeller, he was doing a lot of the guard drills,” Vonleh said at the time. “I want to do something similar like that. That just really stood out to me.”

Three months earlier at the adidas Nations championship game, a sixteen-year-old Vonleh was doing plenty of guard work on the court for USA Red 2014, but with mixed results:

It wasn’t until late in the game, when Vonleh stopped trying to dribble penetrate and went to the block for scores and rebounds, that he was able to force overtime, impose his will and bring his team a victory. He finished the game with 25 points and 16 rebounds.

This is the modern thought of talented teenagers at 6-8 or above with wingspans and size that once deemed them to the paint; they see Kevin Durant shining in the NBA, the positional revolution churning, and who can blame them for thinking: “I can do that … I want to do that, too?”

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